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Becoming Obsessed with Customers: A Guide to Building Relentless Relevance

866 words·5 mins
Branding & Growth
Table of Contents

Gone are the days of brands bombarding audiences with one-way ads. Today’s customers expect true engagement and relevance. It’s no longer enough to simply offer desired products—brands must show customers they truly “get” them.

This requires moving beyond transactions into a customer-obsessed mindset. The first step to building enduring relevance is deeply appreciating who your customers are—their hates, loves, motivations and aspirations.

When you immerse yourself in your customers’ perspectives, you can uncover emotional connections through shared values. This fuels relevance that keeps customers obsessed with your brand, not the competition.

From here, the brand will reap the reward of customers becoming obsessed with the brand.

How Big Brands Achieve Customer Obsession>

How Big Brands Achieve Customer Obsession #

Successful brands use various tactics to deeply understand their customers.

TikTok’s algorithm analyzes user behavior to curate ultra-personalized content feeds. This level of relevance keeps users endlessly engaged.

Gaming leader Riot Games takes a cross-company approach. Every department considers player experience and feedback. This focus on customers led to in-game products that generate over $1 billion annually.

Many startups embrace “building in public,” iterating products based on transparent customer conversations. This makes users feel invested in the brand journey.

Other brands like Salesforce use advisory boards and user conferences to foster customer connections. Their annual Dreamforce event draws 170,000 attendees.

No matter the methods, these brands reap rewards by making customers feel seen, heard, and involved. Their business becomes sympathetic to customer needs, and vice versa.

There are many roads to relevance, but they all start with customer empathy. How will you walk in your customers’ shoes?

How Brands Build Customer Obsession>

How Brands Build Customer Obsession #

Customer obsession requires seeing people, not transactions.

The main agenda of prepping your brand to become customer-obsessed is connecting with your customers on a personal level. At a point where it becomes the norm for the whole business.

In this section, we will dive into it with examples, as well as actionable tips you can do today.

Understanding Customers Deeply>

Understanding Customers Deeply #

Going beyond sales data to uncover contexts, conversations, and motivations is key.

A financial services brand, for example, would conduct in-depth interviews and surveys to map their target customers’ personality traits, life goals, and values. This will reveal a customer segment driven by achievement, status, and wealth creation. As a result, their messaging will evolve to align to these motivations.

Your brand can understand customers deeply by:

  • Going beyond demographics and mapping motivations, conversations, and contexts.
  • Social listening to analyze conversations
  • Finding common interests to relate to audiences as people.
  • Leveraging qualitative inputs like interviews vs. quantitative data alone.
  • Surveying on attitudes, personality, values

Include the bigger world context of your customers’ conversations in your market research.

Forging Emotional Connections>

Forging Emotional Connections #

Shared interests and values forge bonds and loyalty.

An outdoors brand linked its environmental mission to advocacy initiatives, connecting with customers passionate about conservation causes. Online influencers and gurus sell aspirational (typically lavish) lifestyles and help audiences feel their wants understood, and their thoughts validated.

You start can tapping to customers emotionally by:

  • Identifying shared interests around hobbies, causes, communities
  • Identifying shared hopes, fears, and values versus focusing on functional benefits.
  • Understanding their desired social status and self-image.
  • Infusing messaging with emotional appeals based on connections
  • Showing you understand customers’ worldview; don’t just broadcast brand messages.
Turning Insights into Experiences>

Turning Insights into Experiences #

A framework is needed to translate insights into campaigns.

A SaaS company may discover designers valued creative freedom and flexibility. Hence, they will shift their messaging to focus on empowering users to create without limits from focusing on technical specs.

Here are the brass tracks to turn insights into experiences:

  • Identify the customer traits and use them for your marketing messages
  • Audit marketing materials to ensure they consistent with the messaging
  • Write in a way that feels authentic and relatable to your target audience

They are not only after your products’ superior features or your high degree of service and support. They are also buying the status and the feeling of having your product or service. Remember this the next time you DIY marketing materials.

Gathering Broader Intelligence>

Gathering Broader Intelligence #

Sales data can only tell you so much. To get the full picture, you need to look at wider inputs.

A gaming company like Valve monitors Reddit, Discord, and Twitch to understand emerging slang, frustrations, and hype within gaming communities. This is a bootstrapping-friendly way to know about the customers, the easiest to replicate.

Here are some lean ideas to gather intel from customers:

  • Collect feedback from customers
  • Engage with customers on social media and at events
  • Conduct scrappy qualitative research by analyzing online forums
  • Know customer thoughts and feelings by reading their posts and comments
  • Analyze chats to understand how customers interact with your brand
Why be customer-obsessed?>

Why be customer-obsessed? #

The market will change, the needs and attitudes of your customers will inevitably change, and competitors will imitate your success. Your customers’ trust and confidence in your brand is your currency to these inevitable tides.

Relevance requires obsession. Obsession requires empathy. Dare to understand your customers more deeply than anyone else.